THE new owner of an Oakworth graveyard has announced ambitious plans to clean up the site.

The Dockroyd Lane Graveyard has been bought by retired dairy farmer Andrew Heaton, who himself has ancestors buried there. Mr Heaton, 67, lives near York but his father was from Oakworth.

He explained: “There are many Heatons buried in the graveyard, including direct ancestors of mine.

“I’m launching the Dockroyd Graveyard Restoration Project to bring the graveyard back to its former glory.

“The plan is to restore it in a way that allows the families and general public to pay their respects to the people buried there.

“The graveyard can make an important contribution to the Oakworth Conservation Area and as an area of local historical significance. So the preservation of the gravestones and their setting will be a priority.

“A balance will be struck between heritage and wildlife, and between safe access to the public and the needs of butterflies, birds and wild flowers.

“The graveyard is covered by covenants put in place by the church, one of which states public access to the land must be maintained.

“I wish to thank councillors Chris Herd and Peter Corkindale, Bradford Council officers and also Oakworth resident Paul Reynard for their help with the purchase of the land.”

Mr Heaton said the upper part of the graveyard was choked with ivy, with roots from self-seeded trees destabilising gravestones on the lower part of the site.

He said he became aware of the privately-owned graveyard six years ago, when he started researching his family history following the death of his father.

He has recently finished a book, called Heatons of Worth, which is a selection of stories about his family’s historic associations with the Worth Valley.

People wanting to know more about his plans for the graveyard can visit and follow the links to “Heatons of Worth” and “Latest information on the Dockroyd Graveyard Restoration Project”.

Mr Heaton said: “I’m aware there are many helpers willing to contribute. I’d like to involve families, groups or individuals.

“Anyone with photos of the graveyard in former years can share them with me as this will help in planning the restoration.

“And anyone with stories, family history information, photos or obituaries of those buried there can share them to enable a story of the graveyard to be recorded before it’s forgotten forever.

“People with a particular skill prepared to volunteer their time to assist the restoration can come forward. They should call project manager Paul Reynard on 07850 671117.”

Profits from the sale of Mr Heaton’s latest book will go towards the project. People can also make financial donations via his website.